Hoboken Zoning Board will vote on stalled 436-space garage on Stevens campus

HOBOKEN – The final approval for phasing to construct Stevens Institute of Technology’s new 436-space garage – an expansion of the existing Babbio Garage near Sinatra Drive facing the waterfront – will be up for final vote on the March 22 Zoning Board of Adjustment meeting.

The garage, which will take two phases to complete, would offer the additional 296 spaces to students, staff, faculty, and campus visitors, thus alleviating spots taken up by those groups and by visitors in the surrounding area.

“We’ve had meetings with the community throughout this extensive process, and parking is a really critical issue, so [Stevens has] been and remains eager to get increased parking inventory completed and online,” said the Director of Community and State Relations Beth McGrath in an interview on Thursday.

Shovels hit the ground for the Babbio Center in the winter of 2002-2003 after Stevens received zoning board approval. Although the Babbio Center was complete in fall 2005, the garage portion was stalled shortly afterward due to legal problems. The school did finish 144 of the parking spots. After receiving preliminary approval for the newer version of the project in 2009, Stevens filed an application with the Hoboken Zoning Board of Adjustment last September to build the first phase of the expanded garage.

If approved next week, the first phase of the garage will be complete by the first half of 2017 – the same year the school plans to have the Academic Gateway Complex on Hudson Street completed, officials said. Stevens received approval for the two-building complex on Hudson Street late last year (a skybridge as part of the project still needs to come before the City Council for an easement approval).

The school doesn’t plan to make the parking spots available to Hoboken residents, although the Zoning Board can make some contingent upon approval.

The first phase of the project will cost approximately $12 million and the school will finance the cost by issuing bonds, said Robert Maffia, vice president for facilities and campus operations. The second phase of the project, which has not been drawn out yet, will consist of a “wraparound” building on the garage made to blend with the abutting waterfront, thus eliminating the temporary façade.

Currently, there is projected to be an approximate five-year gap between the project’s two phases. School officials said the reason they decided to pursue the garage now is in order for it to be complete alongside the new Academic Complex. – Steven Rodas

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